domingo, 20 de mayo de 2012

The Death of Carlos Fuentes

In front of Mexico City’s Fine Arts Palace, two black and giant Botero’s fat ladies sculptures flanks the funerary Cadillac limo that would leave his body to the final ashes in a couple of hours —now it’s around four pm—. Mexico City’s may sun is high and burning. The long line of mourners waiting to enter the Palace in order to make a citizen honor guard around the coffin is sweating. Street vendors offer umbrellas, pencil portraits and pirate copies of his book, Aura —the one that everybody read in junior high—. Mostly, people are quiet. Suddenly, a soft wind refreshes the atmosphere, bowling rapidly against Torre Latino Americana, Mexico’s first mid-century skyscraper, counter corner of the Palace. Finally, all who wait would accomplish the rite to pose with grief around his last bed, thinking in a country without its history’s major writer. Trying to figure out why this kind of minds occur once in a while, why the life is so miserly with brilliance.

Carlos Fuentes last ride: in front of Mexico City's Fine Arts Palace

Half an hour before, just taking the subway south of the city to downtown where the public funeral would hold, a fuentesian urban scene: a crippled woman walking with a walking stick,  a regular subway beggar, holding the hand of her little blind daughter, falls from the station mechanical stairs. The little girl cries hopelessly and some citizens help the lady that lies like a wounded she-bear and works hard to reincorporate the still, but apparently she hasn’t major injuries. But the compassion, the feel of a deep pain, comes from the little girl’s cry. She is the pure image of Mexican poverty and alienation. One of the millions of people without hope; inhabitants of the underworld of misery, the ring of abjection that surrounds a monstrous city like this, something that Carlos Fuentes knew for sure and described with literary striking force in several of his novels. Works like his opera prima, Where the air is clear (1958), The Death of Artemio Cruz (1962), The Hydra Head (1978), Christopher Unborn (1987), Constancia (1990), The Crystal frontier (1995) and Destiny and desire (2008), all of them with the textual symbolic and descriptive accuracy of Mexican slums, their lost people and their loss of expectations, a life full of despair.
That is the overwhelming heaviness of the world over an increasing number of people worldwide but especially in the Third World. Something that Fuentes pointed out along his public carrier, consequently with his consistent “modern leftism”, as has called his political point of view through the years UCLA’s Professor Maarten van Delden (you can see his clarifications about it in the next interview in English: In the last evolution of Carlos Fuentes progressive thought (that could be placed in the nineties), he affirmed an inclusive view of society, because globalization should be seen as an opportunity to integrate in a planetary scale the old enlightenment values of freedom, happiness and egalitarianism. This quest must be assumed for all the social system shareholders like plutocrats and the State and no just civil society alone. Universal education, democracy, governmental efficiency, pervasive academic and civil critic was some of the principles that Fuentes kept as the keys to make the world a better place to live in given the actual circumstances. His essayistic and journalistic work is full of that, altogether with his famous and brilliant trajectory as a scholar and public lecturer. He always was an old school social liberal.

The author in his eighties

Now his voice is sounding no more. Despite his written words would live for a long time, we will miss his powerful critic description of things in real time. He was the perfect incarnation of Latin (including France and Spain) intellectual, the one worried for public and politic matters and the possibility to express his point of view to wide audiences. Practically until his very last day he was an active participant in the political arena expressing, for example, his distaste for the pretended return to power of the old authoritarian Mexican party, PRI (by its Spanish acronym), and its ignorant and corrupt candidate, Enrique Peña Nieto (you can see Fuentes’ opinions on the matter in the next interview in Spanish:
But that’s the law of life. We were born to die. Destiny reserved for him the fortune to have a long life and a short agony —and deep grief, for sure, like the death of two of his sons in a young age of them—. We will continue reading his marvelous work and we are going to miss for a long time his opinions, the way he opened the world with his privileged intelligence. So long Master, we will try to be up to the level of your invaluable inheritance.

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